Monday, August 28, 2017

Inspiration Needed

I was out for a walk this morning before settling down to work. I was mentally mumbling to myself about feeling uninspired about taking my walk - it felt like just so much work. 

I haven't written any poems to finish out the set that I've started to accompany my mediation book. I have felt just uninspired. I know that if I force the words that the poems will be stodgy and clunky. I haven't even felt like continuing to edit the ones that I have written. sigh.

Am I trying to hard to be inspired? Do I give up too easily when I don't feel inspired? I know that inspiration comes in different ways for people - it is most likely rarely exactly the same for everyone. What gateway to inspiration should I be trying right now when the voice in my head says: "I don't want to. I just want to play."

I have read Elizabeth Gilbert's book, Big Magic, twice. Even it isn't providing me any inspiration right now. Sometimes the inspiration merely needs to be the discipline to sit down and do the work. But I truly seem to be in a space right now where I'd rather go for a walk, watch a youtube video, or something similar. sigh.

Maybe I just need to see this as a bardo period for any creativity. LLama Surya Das describes bardo in his book, Buddha Standard Time. Bardo is a Tibetan Buddhist concept of the life between human lives. Surya Das says that, to him, bardo can also be a period of, for example, illness between periods of health. Fields have fallow periods. I suppose I can see this as a fallow or bardo period and not try to force creativity. 

I know that some would say that you need to do whatever it is for you every day. But, it just never seems to work for me that way. 

I just hope that I can begin to harvest creativity again soon.

First photo by jebshoots.com
Second photo by Matthew Brodeur

Monday, August 21, 2017

Once to Every Man and Nation

This hymn popped into my mind recently. I used to love singing this hymn when I used to go to church - a lot for the music, but also for the thought. A time comes to choose, although I'm not sure the it comes only once in the life of a person, a generation or a nation. 

James R. Lowell, the author of the hymn lyrics, wrote a 90 line poem in 1845 as a protest against the Mexican American War. A part of the poem was put to music as a hymn. But, whatever Lowell's reason for writing these words, I think we really are at the cusp of choosing which direction to go - for the good or evil side. I don't think that you have to be a follower of Christ, or even believe in God, to appreciate the meaning of this hymn. The lyrics are: 

Once to every man and nation,
Comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood,
For the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision,
Offering each the bloom or blight, 
And the choice goes by forever, 
’Twixt that darkness and that light. 

Then to side with truth is noble,
When we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit,
And ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses
While the coward stands aside, 
Till the multitude make virtue 
Of the faith they had denied. 

By the light of burning martyrs,
Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever
With the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties,
Time makes ancient good uncouth, 
They must upward still and onward, 
Who would keep abreast of truth. 

Though the cause of evil prosper,
Yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold,
And upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown, 
Standeth God within the shadow, 
Keeping watch above His own. 

You can hear the hymn here.

As I said above, I truly believe that we, each and everyone of us, are at a time to choose. But I also think that the choosing does not necessarily mean that the action we take is necessarily the same for everyone. I don't expect the deeply introverted to be in the front lines of protest marches. Not everyone can write blog posts. I do hope that as many as possible of us, including myself, will speak up in when people are shamed, ridiculed or treated badly wherever that takes place. We can sign petitions, call our legislators, give money to causes as we can. I believe that it all has to happen at the local, state and federal levels. 


Choosing can be letting our light shine in anyway that is meaningful to us. It can be reaching out a hand. It can be standing up and saying no. It can be camping out at the next Standing Rock. It can be signing up for a Muslim registry, god forbid it ever comes to be, whether or not you are Muslim. (I read that all the Danes showed up wearing the Jewish Star during WWII) It can be following the steps of Martin Luther King, Jr. I know someone who is on her second water blessing journey. For some it can be many things at once. 


My thought is that, if we all let our lights shine in our own ways, we will create, finally, a new way of being. A way of being where we have a theology/philosophy of personhood rather than a religion of materialism. We will have a way of being where everything we do comes from a place of heart, love, compassion, kindness, and mercy rather than hate, fear and greed. 


Now I just need the courage and discipline to follow through. 

The first photo is by Yaoqi LAI.
The second photo is by Mike Labrum
The third photo is meditation image number 53 from Opening the Heart: Meditations on How to Be (here)

Monday, August 14, 2017

And Marley's Ghost Said



Scrooge comments to Marley's ghost that he had been a good businessman. Marley then says: "Business! Humanity was my business! Common welfare was my business. Mercy. Kindness. These were all my business...."

I'm not sure why Scrooge and Marley popped into my head this morning. I did ask for my angels and guides to help me come up with an idea for my weekly blog post, so possibly that is where this idea came from. 

Possibly because mercy and kindness seem to be in short supply, at least if all you pay attention to is the news. Because, well the news tends not to report on mercy and kindness as a counter balance to the stuff the news regularly reports. And, maybe because the idea of mercy and kindness doesn't seem to be occurring to the current US administration or whatever governmental body you might think of. Or in groups such as ISIS or Boko Haram.


Yet, I know deep in my heart that mercy and kindness are an everyday occurrence. 

Maybe we should all have t-shirts that say: "Business? Humanity is my business. Kindness and Mercy are my business." 


Monday, August 7, 2017

The Other Side of Impossible

I was inspired by the title of a book again, The Other Side of Impossible: Ordinary People Who Faced Daunting Medical Challenges and Refused to Give Up by Susannah Meadows.  Reminds me of Kelly Turner's book, Radical Remissions, and Anna Parkinson's Change Your Mind, Heal Your Body

Meadows interviews a number of people, one a psychologist (whose name frankly escapes me at the moment). This psychologist talks about the grit to get through things. Grit is made up, psychologically, of persistence, hard work, and possibly the most important element, hope. It could also be characterized as believing that you have control over something that allows you to keep hopeful and keep working. Also, so that you don't despair. Despair, I think leads to giving up.

It occurs to me that the concept of refusing to give up, believing that we have control and that there is hope can get us through many things. It might be a medical challenge. It might be keeping the dream of becoming a writer or actor alive. It might be working to clean up the local river. It might be running for political office because you don't like the direction things are taking. It might be working towards a particular degree or certification to be able to have a particular career. 

A friend asked me in the middle of bringing my book into being whether I believed it would actually be published. I told her that I had to or there was no point in continuing to work on it. Well, yes, it's self-published, but it is published. It was daunting at times (although not as daunting as facing the medical challenges written about in these 3 books), but I kept at with my book designer's help. 

What is your other side of impossible? What keeps you going?

The first photo is by Nathan Dumlao. The second is by Fab Lentz. They were found on unsplash.com